New Walgreens Boots Alliance IT network taking shape

BT announced today that it has now connected the first sites as part of its wide scale IT network upgrade for Walgreens Boots Alliance's European businesses. 

The newly connected sites in the UK and Norway represent one of the initial steps in the heath & beauty retailer's IT transformation programme, and the move is expected to improve the reliability and performance of multiple business systems and applications.

Walgreens and BT recently signed a five-year IT partnership, under which BT is upgrading and expanding the IT infrastructure for many facets of the group, including wholesaler Alliance Healthcare and high street retail business Boots. As part of the arrangement, BT will work with Walgreens Boots Alliance to develop and introduce new digital technologies across its operations which are aimed at boosting employee productivity, improving customer service and fostering innovation.  

Once completed, the new BT-managed IT network will serve around 3,500 Boots locations and Alliance Healthcare wholesale and distribution sites across Europe and Thailand.

Erwin van Vroenhoven, vice president, global IT shared services at Walgreens Boots Alliance, commented: "Digital innovation is a key area of investment for our company.

"Our new IT platform, provided by BT, will help us to further improve the customer experience and our colleagues' productivity, while enabling us to provide innovative services that will help us continue to meet our customers' ever changing health and beauty needs."

Connectivity will be provided into Walgreens Boots Alliance's own data centres and those operated by third parties hosting the company's business applications and data. Utilising BT's so-called "Cloud of Clouds" approach to IT, the retailer hopes to gain more control over the performance of its cloud-based applications regardless of where they are hosted, as well as certain security benefits.

BT will also deploy a range of different network access technologies for Boots' flagship stores in the UK, with these stores set to receive dedicated fibre Ethernet services while other stores will use 'Ethernet in the First Mile', superfast broadband and copper-based broadband solutions.

These technologies are expected to give stores the bandwidth they require for day-to-day operations and the capacity needed to manage peaks in business demand, such as in the build-up to Christmas and new year.

Emer Timmons, president, strategic deals and customer engagement, BT Global Services, remarked: "Our new agreement with Walgreens Boots Alliance is built on our world class service delivery, global reach and a shared appetite for innovation.

"We will provide seamless connectivity to underpin almost every part of the business, from delivering great retail customer experiences to enabling knowledge sharing and collaboration for new product development."

Last summer, BT revealed that it had signed up electricals and mobile retailer Dixons Carphone on a five-year network infrastructure deal.

As the project rolls out, BT's network will carry all of the retailer's voice and data traffic, supporting its 1,200 stores, offices, data centres, contact centres and supply chain operations across the UK. The arrangement also entails in-store Wi-Fi support, in light of the retailer's growing reliability on a connected customer service throughout its shops.

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